Wolf Hall Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary
by Hilary Mantel

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Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

In the Lenten season of 1530, Thomas Cromwell is summoned to York Place, formerly the London residence of Cardinal Wolsey but now the home of Anne Boleyn. Since it is a holy season, King Henry stays away from his mistress, although he had previously held a banquet with her by his side; this infuriated his sister the Duchess of Suffolk and Anne’s aunt the Duchess of Norfolk since Anne took precedence over them.

Now Anne is lonely and hopes that Cromwell will provide some amusement. After he visits with her, he talks to Mary Boleyn, who is contemptuous of her sister. Cromwell hints that Anne might be pregnant, but Mary assures him that they still have not slept together.

Cardinal Wolsey is leaving Esher and heading north. The household is broken up, and the Duke of Norfolk still hopes that Cromwell will come to be his assistant. Wolsey gives Cromwell a package, telling him to open it after he has left. Eustache Chapuys, the ambassador from Emperor Charles, tells Cromwell to tell Wolsey that the Emperor will extend no more credit to him. He warns that should Henry continue in his suit for a divorce, the Tudor house may fall and be replaced by the old nobility.

King Henry wants to raise money. He tells Cromwell, who is now his closest advisor, that he would like to take over the colleges that Wolsey started with an endowment. Cromwell suggests that the monasteries are very wealthy and would be a good source of funds, especially since they are riddled with sin and corruption.

Thomas More invites Cromwell to dine with him and his family. Cromwell does not trust More. Lady Anne Boleyn tells Cromwell that she is reading some of the works of William Tyndale, the Protestant reformer, and sharing them with the king. Thomas Cranmer is also working for the king. 

Cardinal Wolsey continues his trek to York but falls ill. On November 26, 1530, Wolsey dies. George Cavendish arrives to tell Cromwell of Wolsey’s demise. Harry Percy had been commissioned to arrest the cardinal for treason. Over several days, Wolsey refused to eat and began to pass black blood.

At Hampton Court, a play depicting Wolsey’s descent into hell is performed, much to the delight of the Duke of Norfolk and Anne Boleyn. The king has a look of fear in his eyes. Cromwell returns to Austin Friars and has Wolsey’s coat of arms painted over.